Yangon, Myanmar – February 23, 2015

Yangon, Myanmar – February 23, 2015

My last day in Myanmar is spotted with the sweet and sourness of returning home to Bozeman and my family and colleagues at the City and leaving my new family and colleagues I have gained in my 10 days traveling the country and discussing Myanmar’s economic trajectory while identifying barriers to economic opportunities and similarities between Myanmar, Bozeman and Montana.

We started the final day by touring the corporate offices of the Winning Security Company, owned and managed by Ms. Su Su. Here I met the administrative staff and the operations managers as well as receiving a briefing on the activities of Ms. Su Su who is attempting to raise the profile of private security companies in Myanmar and establish better relationships with local police organizations.

Mr. Charles Pesola, Principal of the Moonlighting Detective and Security Services in Kalispell, Montana has been an integral part of that conversation. A few months ago, Charles was in Yangon and presenting private security firm best practices to members of the private sector and local and federal officials. The successful event was organized by Ms. Su Su and was well attended and well covered by the media.

The afternoon included meetings at the Ministry of National Planning and Economic Development, Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA). There we met with Joint Secretary Ms. Mya Thuza and Deputy Director Dr. Mar Lar Myo Nyunt and spoke in detail about Myanmar’s recent foreign direct investment (FDI) in telecommunications services and infrastructure.

wrapped it all up with a wonderful traditional Myanmar feast of fresh seafood, cooked a variety of ways (fried, grilled, steamed in banana leaves), rice, cooked vegetables in a variety of savory sauces and grilled meats. Su Su and I talked a lot about the future. We tried to place all of my experiences in a neat little box to send back to the US but that proved more difficult than we imagined. In fact, there are several loose ends that we need to tie up, i.e. connections with MSU and UL, facilitate business to business contacts and finally make introduction to the Montana Dept. of Tourism. At the outset of this exchange I wondered, sometimes aloud, what can we possibly have in common? Today I am struck by all the things we actually do have in common like rural character of our community and state and that of parts of Myanmar, agricultural, educational needs (esp. practical skills training) infrastructure needs (transportation, water/sewer, tele-communications), tourism, access to investment capital). We have more work to do.

I’m now back in the US, back at my desk and back to my own projects that have been patiently awaiting my return. As I catch up on work that has accumulated, I am adding a few follow-ups from my exchange to Myanmar. Myanmar’s economic future is at a very critical crossroads. I hope that, in some small way, the conversations we have had, relationships built and opportunities identified, we in Bozeman and Montana, have played a small but important part in the economic evolution of an entire country. The last chapter has yet to be written on this so stay tuned…

City of Bozeman MT

Brit Fontenot | Director of Economic Development



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